Yesterday when the CBO released its latest report on the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, Republicans were quick to claim that the health care reform bill will cost millions of jobs. Obamacare was about to take another media beating.
That should have drawn out the President, his supporters, and every Democrat in Congress ready to answer the criticism and set the record straight. But, if they were out there, they were very quiet about it.
Aside from fairly lame comments by Council of Economic Advisers chairman Jason Furman and press secretary Jay Carney more or less repeating one another, it was difficult to find anything positive about the report at all. Pretty much all day, Obamacare took another media beating.
Now, a day later, the dust has is beginning to settle. Reputable reporters and analysts are taking a closer look at the report and suggesting that it does not really project a loss of millions of jobs. Those who made those claims were, perhaps, misunderstanding, perhaps even deliberately distorting.
Over the next few days, calmer discussions will bring out better, more complete, even more accurate explanations. Things will settle down. Everyone will lose interest.
That has pretty much been the pattern since the beginning of Obamacare. Since 2010, the plan has been implemented in almost painfully slow stages. That should have given the government and Obamacare supporters, especially Democrats, time to inform the public and build support. For whatever reason, that has not happened.
Yesterday’s little drama is playing out as usual. First, a triggering incident, in this case a perhaps carelessly worded report from the CBO is immediately followed by savage denouncements and dire predictions from the GOP. Then, reporters, analysts, and even some good bloggers begin to correct the misinformation generated in the early stage.
Two things are important here. First, that early misinformation (or disinformation) does a lot of damage. From this present incident, many people will remember the hysteria around those millions of lost job. The second is that not nearly so many will remember that those lost jobs were mostly nonexistent.
And somehow, even people who are benefiting — maybe because they are able to drop a second job that basically only paid for health insurance they are now getting at a reasonable rate — even those people will only remember that millions of jobs were lost due to Obamacare.
Now, we are moving into 2014 when the general public should be actually experiencing some of the most important benefits of Obamacare and looking forward to more. Instead, people are still unsure, maybe even uneasy, about what the plan will do and how it will affect them.
It’s a puzzle. Up until implementation fiasco at the end of last year, most of the alarms about Obamacare seemed to be a lot more huff and puff than real stuff. Untroubled by that, Republicans continue to come out in force to blow up every little blip. But, where are the Democrats?
Other than Obama’s occasional speeches and the rare Democratic response to a Republican charge, where are they? With elections coming up, they should be out stumping in their districts and touting the benefits of Obamacare. At the very least, the President should be out in front making his case before absurd criticisms send him scurrying off in a completely wrong direction.
It’s possible that Democrats are remembering earlier confrontations Tea Party enthusiasts. Maybe they think they can hide and wait it out.
That is a very poor strategy. This is the time that Democrats need to step up, step out, and claim Obamacare. They need to talk to people about it. They need to get out in front of the next challenge that comes along. They need to find a little indignation about the deliberate misinterpretations and enough gumption to call out obvious lies when they hear them.
Failure to come up with a fast and fierce response to the next challenge may very well put those silent Democrats out of work, making them the only Americans whose jobs actually are threatened by Obamacare.
Tragic as that might be, the true tragedy, is that millions of Americans on the brink of truly affordable health care may very well have it snatched away from them, largely because the people who created it would not defend it. That’s the real cost of allowing Obamacare to take another media beating.
Editorial by Sharon I. Fawley